Stradivarius King of Cups
Stradivarius continued his domination of the Staying Category of the QIPCO British Champions Series with a workmanlike success in the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup at York.
It means he has won the first four legs of the division and his exploits have been richly rewarded because victory enabled his connections to scoop the inaugural Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million bonus.
And Stradivarius may yet be given the chance to emulate Frankel and become only the second horse to win five Series races in one season. Bjorn Nielsen, his owner-breeder, says if he runs again this season it is likely to be in the Long Distance Cup at Ascot on QIPCO British Champions Day.
Victories in the Yorkshire Cup, Gold Cup and Goodwood Cup had left the top-class stayer, on the brink of the bonus.
He was not at his brilliant best but the John Gosden-trained four-year-old, sent off at 4-11, ultimately got the upper hand in the final furlong to beat his old rival Count Octave in the hands of Frankie Dettori.
Petitioner, wearing the Nielsen second colours, set an average gallop until the turn for home, where Count Octave took over.
Stradivarius took some time to find his feet, but he knuckled down to his task and once he hit the front at the furlong pole, he kept up the gallop to beat Count Octave by a length and half.
Aidan O’Brien’s Idaho was four and a half lengths away in third place.
Gosden said: “Full marks to the owner, he’s been trying to breed a Derby winner for years and he ends up with a Cup horse!
“But seriously, he’s passionate about breeding and puts a lot of time and effort into it, so he deserves it. It’s an extraordinary achievement. The horse has a lot of determination, but also a lot of class.
“I wouldn’t say he was at his sparkling best today, but we can’t complain as we won.”
A proud Nielsen said: “To win just one leg of the incentive is huge, they are all prestigious races.
“To win four, first of all you need a tremendous horse, but you also need an enormous amount of luck and a very talented trainer to bring the horse to a peak four times in a season.
“As for next season, it seems pretty obvious to keep him to the same races.”